CFO Grant to Fund Mobile Empathy Lab
The Library Foundation, in partnership with Missouri State University Libraries, received a $7,460 grant from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks to purchase virtual reality technology to help foster empathy and raise awareness for the experiences of marginalized groups. This grant is part of CFO’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Fund, which works to celebrate diversity and improve inclusivity in Springfield and across the region.
Most people in the Ozarks go about their lives without thinking about how their appearance or skin color might raise suspicion, create fear, or encourage harassment. However, those who exist on the periphery of what society frequently deems “standard” have to make these considerations all the time. The tragic death of George Floyd and subsequent events surrounding it provided a sense of urgency regarding issues of race and what resources the Springfield-Greene County Libraries could provide for the community.
The Library will provide public programs that teach empathy through virtual reality and facilitated conversations led by organizations with diversity and inclusion expertise. VR headsets will lead adults through short alternative realities where they experience a first person perspective designed to elicit empathy. A television screencast will allow all participants, whether they put the headsets on or not, to see what their colleagues are seeing while they experience it. Participants will receive a take-home resource packet outlining ways to get involved at a local level for the topic being discussed.
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